With my departure date quickly approaching, the reality of what I’m about to do is starting to sink in. For months now I’ve been so focused on filling out applications, passing interviews, completing necessary documents and researching life in Korea, that I seemed to have forgotten that all this work isn’t just for some class assignment/simulation. It’s for real. I’ve booked my one-way ticket to Seoul, and am in the process of receiving my E-2 temporary work visa. There’s no turning back now. And that’s a good thing. It’s exciting. But it’s also a little unsettling. Okay, fine. It’s frickin’ terrifying at times.
- What if I don’t like teaching?
- What if I have trouble making friends?
- What if I can’t get used to the food?
These and other like-minded “What if…?” questions are the kind of self-doubting, skeptical, nervous reservations that creep into the dark corners of my brain every now and then.
- How will I deal with feeling homesick?
- How will I survive in a country where all I can say in the local language is “Hello” and “Thank you”?
- How am I going to handle troublesome students?
Sure, most of these thoughts err on the melodramatic side. But part of me insists they’re not entirely unreasonable.
- What if I commit some sort of unforgivable social faux pas and I’m cast out from Korean society, ne’er to return again?
- What if I try an exotic new food and it turns out I’m DEATHLY allergic?
- What if my students rise up in rebellion against my futile efforts to be a good teacher and they drown me in kimchi?
It could happen.
- I could get paired with the world’s most diabolical co-teacher whose lone mission in life is to make me miserable.
- I could get run over by a crazy delivery driver on my way to work.
- I could get lost on a hike in a bamboo grove and have to eat my way out.
- Love teaching.
- Make tons of friends, expats and Koreans alike.
- Not only tolerate the food, but enjoy it.
- Deal with homesickness by Skyping with friends and family often, and they’ll visit!
- Ride the Hangeul Struggle Bus for awhile until I develop basic–or fluent–language skills.
- Help troublesome students turn their behavior around.
- Make social mistakes along the way, and everyone (including me) will have a good laugh and learn from it.
- Try new things and discover new favorites.
- Be an engaging, effective teacher who wins the hearts and minds of all his students (a guy can hope)
- Get paired with the world’s best co-teacher and we’ll become lifelong friends
- Become best buds with the crazy delivery guy and he’ll eventually know my order as “the usual”
- Get lost on a hike, stumble across the most amazing, pristine sight, and then miraculously find my way back.
Who knows? Not me. What I am sure of, though, is that this journey I’m embarking on is fraught with possibilities both good and bad. And no matter how much I research and prepare, I’ll never be “ready.” So I’m just going for it. I’m taking a deep breath, putting any and all fears aside, and I’m simply hoping for the best, because I have faith that that’s what going to happen.